(Bloomberg News) U.S. Representative Barney Frank, co-author of the biggest rewrite of Wall Street rules since the Great Depression, will retire instead of seeking re-election next year, according to a statement released by his office.
Frank, a Massachusetts Democrat, led the House Financial Services Committee during the 2008 credit crisis and was a top negotiator on the $700 billion banking-industry bailout. In 2009 and 2010, he was the lead House negotiator on what would become the Dodd-Frank Act -- a 2,300 page overhaul of the U.S. financial regulatory system.
One of the first openly gay members of Congress, Frank has served in the House since 1981, representing a district that includes Boston suburbs Newton and Brookline and stretches out to cities including Taunton and Fall River.
A lawmaker who never shied away from attacks, Frank became well-known for his willingness to engage lawmakers on the other side of an issue -- on the House floor, in committee hearings or through the media, often using quick wit and humor, according to Michael J. Wilson, the national director for Americans for Democratic Action, a self-described "independent liberal political organization."
"Barney Frank is an icon to liberals everywhere and even though conservatives oppose him, they know he is smarter and funnier than they are every day of the week," Wilson said today in a statement.
Frank, 71, will make a formal announcement today at a press conference in Newton today about 1 p.m. He also will meet with reporters in Washington tomorrow to discuss his plan to retire, according to the statement.
Frank's retirement will mark the end of a three decade-long career where he has been at the forefront of fights on affordable housing, gay rights and defense spending. The decision also is a reversal for Frank, who told the Boston Globe last year that he would run again in 2012.
After serving as chairman of the Financial Services panel from 2007 through 2010, Frank was swept into the minority as Republicans to control of the House in last year's elections. Frank himself faced a tougher-than-usual race, at one point loaning his campaign $200,000 in his contest against Marine reservist and businessman Sean Bielat, the Republican challenger.
Bielat attacked the lawmaker for failing to identify problems with Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the government-backed mortgage finance firms operating under U.S. conservatorship after being seized during the credit crisis.